There have been many instances where UNLV has struggled to put points on the board.
Tuesday night against Colorado State was not one of those nights.
UNLV trailed early 9-7, but went on a 24-6 run to take a 31-15 lead at the under-eight media timeout in the first half. And they never looked back enroute to a 80-56 win over Colorado State.
It was one of their best performances all season, in fact, T.J. Otzelberger went as far as to say it was their best.
“They were focused, they were intentional,” Otzelberger said, “did a great job on that end of the floor (defensively). It led to us getting out in transition that first half. I thought our guys did a good job sharing the basketball, probably our most complete game of the year.”
The Rebels had one of its best shooting nights of the season, which was aided by a hot start in the first half. UNLV shot 55.9 percent from the field in the first half and knocked down nine of its first 15 three pointers. After cooling down in the second half, UNLV leveled out to 50 percent from the field and 41.7 percent from three at the conclusion of the game.
As Otzelberger mentioned, UNLV shared the basketball. In some of their previous games where they struggled on offense, UNLV had low assist numbers, and last night they had 19.
Leading the Rebels on offense, to the surprise of no one, was Bryce Hamilton. His 25 points on 11 of 16 shooting and 10 rebounds were another stellar performance in what has been incredible play in Mountain West play for Hamilton.
Otzelberger credits Hamilton’s work ethic, and how that hard work is leading to confidence. And that confidence is leading to what we are seeing on the floor now.
“When (Hamilton) is knocking down that three ball, the way he can put it on the floor, he’s a really dynamic weapon,” Otzelberger said.
What was also impressive was UNLV’s play on defense. They played with immense focus and disrupted Colorado State’s rhythm.
With the Rebels going small, by playing four guards more often recently, UNLV managed to defend the three-point line effectively. When they faced the Rams in Fort Collins a few weeks back, the Rebels gave up 11 three-pointers, and tonight they forced Colorado State to shoot 4 of 14.
Going small did not hurt UNLV on the boards. The Rebels had a plus 20 advantage on the boards, 46 to 26. There was a plus 13 advantage on defensive rebounds, which helped UNLV get out in transition.
Once again, Otzelberger gave credit to the focus and energy the guys on the floor had knowing they were playing small.
UNLV had a lead as high as 33, but at the end of the day, a win is a win. “ We just wanted to win the game, as long as we win by one point, I’m happy. It’s more about how our guys play, how they act, how they treat each other….and that they are competitors on the court,” Otzelbeger said.
Along with Hamilton, Elijah Mitrou-Long had another great game. He had 16 points and six assists off the bench. Amauri Hardy had 11 points and six assists.
UNLV evens its record to 14-14 and 9-6 in the conference, as of Wednesday morning, they are tied with Colorado State and Boise State for fourth place.
The Rebels hit the road to California to face undefeated San Diego State Saturday afternoon.